3.8KM S W IM

It’s the short­est yet po­ten­tially the most scary part of any Iron­man. So how should you ready your­self for the swim? Over to top Iron­man racer Andy Blow…

220 Triathlon Magazine - - 2018 LONG-DISTANCE SPECIAL -

De­spite be­ing the short­est sec­tion

of an Iron­man by quite some mar­gin, the 3.8km swim can ac­tu­ally be the most daunt­ing as­pect of the event for many long-dis­tance new­com­ers, as well as for any­one whose ath­letic abil­i­ties are, shall we say, bet­ter suited to land-based pur­suits.

To make your iron swim ex­pe­ri­ence as smooth as pos­si­ble, it’s im­por­tant to con­sider the fol­low­ing points when pick­ing what races to do and how you go about pre­par­ing for them. First, look at the body of wa­ter the swim is in. Lakes and, to a de­gree, rivers (both found at the Bas­tion) tend to offer calmer and more pre­dictable con­di­tions than you can get in the sea. So, if you’re re­ally put off by the idea of get­ting a wave in the face, think very hard be­fore sign­ing up for a coastal race such as Iron­man Wales. If you’re set on a sea swim race, then it’s a good idea to hope for the best but plan for the worst. Get plenty of prac­tice swims in rough wa­ter dur­ing the build-up so you know you can def­i­nitely cope with it on race day. Just turn­ing up and hop­ing it’ll be flat and calm isn’t a great idea…

Sec­ond, do some re­search to find out the kind of wa­ter tem­per­a­ture you’ll be faced with in the race you choose. Early-sea­son events and most of those in the UK tend to be held in wa­ter that can be brac­ing, which can re­ally add to the chal­lenge. As with learn­ing to cope with waves in the ocean, get­ting plenty of prac­tice in wa­ter of a sim­i­lar tem­per­a­ture is the best way to adapt body and mind to cop­ing with the cold. A well-fit­ting wet­suit is also a must when the wa­ter is chilly, as any­thing baggy will al­low cold wa­ter to flush through and make the ex­pe­ri­ence mis­er­able.

Third, take a good look at the course lay­out. Multi-lap cour­ses (es­pe­cially those with an ‘Aussie exit’ style run be­tween laps as seen at Iron­man UK, Iron­man Wales and the UK Ul­ti­mate Triathlon) can be men­tally eas­ier as they offer a short

break at half way and nat­u­rally split the swim into two halves to be tack­led sep­a­rately. On the flip-side, a long sin­gle loop (see The Out­law) or an out-and-back swim can be tough in terms of both nav­i­ga­tion and hold­ing your con­cen­tra­tion. So pre­pare your­self for those with some longer non-stop sim­u­la­tion swims in train­ing.

Over­all the main mes­sage is that fore­warned is fore­armed when it comes to get­ting your mind and body ready for an Iron­man swim. Pre­pare as specif­i­cally as you can for the ex­act de­mands of the course and the con­di­tions, and with the re­al­is­tic worst-case weather sce­nario in mind. Lean into the chal­lenge rather than hop­ing it’ll all just be lovely on the day and you’ll get to the race con­fi­dent and ready to get the job done, no mat­ter what’s thrown at you.

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